Testimony from Kait Castillo, operations director of The Womxn Project, in support of the Same Day Registration bill (S608) to be heard in the Senate Judiciary Committee
The Womxn Project strongly supports S608, which allows same-day voter registration to Rhode Islanders. The Womxn Project is an activist organization that works toward reproductive justice in Rhode Island and beyond. One of our goals is ensuring that childbearing people not only have the equal right to reproductive healthcare, but equal access to it. In Rhode Island, state workers and their families and people of low income who receive state-funded healthcare cannot access abortion through their health insurance. This policy effect is racist and classist because it disproportionately affects people of color and low-income people, and my group is working to end it.
The population disproportionately affected by abortion bans is part of the same population affected by voter suppression. One of The Womxn Project’s core beliefs is that every voice in Rhode Island needs to be heard, and that our government has an obligation to clear a path for people to make their wishes known.
Same day registration bills encourage participation among historically low-turnout voters, such as young, low-income, Latino and African American voters–people whose voices are a critical part of creating an equitable and just society that embraces equal access to healthcare.
Same day registration particularly encourages voter participation among young people who move frequently. This was my experience as a college student. I moved every year, and having to stay on top of updating my voter registration as well as my studies was challenging. If a bill like the one proposed was law when I was a student, a huge barrier to my participation would have been eliminated. Now even as an adult, I have had to move repeatedly due to roommate situations changing, rent increases, and life changes. Here in Rhode Island we are dealing with several housing issues that further impact the ability for people to register to vote and be represented.
Nearly half of the states in the US offer same day registration, and I believe it’s imperative that Rhode Island join their ranks so that it’s easier for every person in our state to take part in their civic duty.